Startup Stories: Architect turned Entrepreneur with Cheek’d!

Lori Cheek, Architect turned Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of Cheek'd

Tell us about your product or service.
Cheek’d bridges the gap between online dating and real-world romance by providing members with physical cards that they can use to entice people from the real world to flirt with them in the virtual world. It’s the 2.0 version of “Call Me.”

The cards offer a real purpose and advantage to other online dating sites and expand a subscriber’s dating opportunities beyond the pool of people registered with an online dating service. By bringing the social aspect back into dating and moving it from your computer to your everyday life, Cheek’d is giving it’s members an opportunity to leverage technology without completely depending on it, while promoting a safe and playful interaction in the physical world at a time when virtual interaction is growing and online privacy is scarce.

What inspired you to launch your business?
Nearly five years ago, I was out to dinner with a friend & architectural colleague and I had excused myself from the table. When I returned, my handsome dinner date had scribbled on the back of his business card, “want to have dinner?” As we were leaving the restaurant, he slid that card to an attractive woman at a nearby table. He left with a pending date. I left with an idea… It had happened to me a thousand times during my NYC commute—spotting that intriguing stranger on a train, in a café, crossing the street, at baggage claim, etc. and nearly 999 of them got away. Handing a business card could have been one answer, but I was entranced by the mysterious gesture of handing it to the object of your affection and removing the personal details included on a typical business card, which is simply too much information to hand to a total stranger. A person’s name on a card, alone, could potentially lead you to their front door.

My solution to the problem would apply a personal approach to online dating by moving the initial encounter offline with a smooth physical introduction. In May of 2010, I launched—my solution to the 999 missed opportunities I’d personally experienced. Shortly after launch, the New York Times proclaimed, “Move over,” and coined Cheek’d as “the next generation of online dating.”

What problem does your business or organization solve?
There are 102 million single adults in America. Nearly 40 million of those are looking for love on the internet. After spending hours at work behind a computer, the millions of online shoppers head home to get behind yet another computer to spend the evening looking for love in solitude. While 81% people misrepresent their height, weight or age in their profiles, and hired ghostwriters that can completely take care of your profile and messaging your suitors, you really never know quite who or what’s going to show up in front of you when you finally agree to meet.

While 1 in 5 relationships begin online, Cheek’d is a tool for the other four.

What has been your biggest challenge and how are you working to overcome it?
My biggest Startup Challenge would be overcoming doubt. Building Cheek’d has been a very lengthy marathon. After coming up with the idea, I risked everything I had and knew. I spent my entire savings account and left my 15-year career in design & architecture.

There have definitely been many days where I just didn’t know what to do anymore or how to best focus my efforts. With my design background, I really didn’t know anything about building a business. It’s been a major struggle over the past few years and I’ve just had to look myself in the mirror on numerous occasions and convince myself that I can do this– I can figure it all out. I’ve come this far and there’s going to be no looking back. I’ve given this my all. It may take time, but I’m not going to quit.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
I’m moved by Project Eve’s Inspirational Twitter Feed alone on a daily basis!

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry.
Spot an intriguing stranger? Try simply saying “hi.”– the old school way.

Company: Cheek’d


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